Sam Smith says their singing voice is 'probably the most non-binary part of me'

The Grammy winner chatted about their new album 'Love Goes' before their 'etalk Open House' performance.
Published October 29, 2020 7:16 p.m. EST
Last Updated December 8, 2020 9:38 a.m. EST
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British pop singer Sam Smith isn't afraid to get deep and personal with their music and that's exactly what we can expect with their third studio album, Love Goes, which drops on Friday. The 11 tracks were created over the last two years and Smith explains how this new record broke them out of their mould, marking a time of change for them both as an artist and as a person. Smith promises that the new album is filled with pop tracks and some power ballads so be prepared to sing and dance along.Last September, the Grammy winner announced they would be using they/them pronouns moving forward to reflect their non-binary identity. While Sam continues to inspire people around the world, Smith says they don't see themself as a role model because role models seem like they have to be perfect—Sam's just hoping that singing about their life and sharing their experiences can help people feel less alone. Speaking to etalk's Liz Trinnear ahead of their etalk Open House performance of "Diamonds," Smith dives into their current obsessions (including Euphoria and Selling Sunset), shares some love for our hometown hero Jessie Reyez and explains the journey they've been on as a pop song writer.[video_embed id='2066093']WATCH: Sam Smith shares exclusive performance of ‘Diamonds' [/video_embed]Liz: Where are you in the world right now and how are things treating you?Sam: I'm in my management office down the road from my house. It's a cold, dark British evening. It's always weird this time of year because it gets so dark so early.Let's dive into Love Goes. I am obsessed with it! It takes you on such a journey of emotions. Talk to me about the new direction of the album and where it found you in life.This album was made the last two years really. It was before COVID-19 I made most of it and I'd just come off tour from my second album. The second album was so deep and such a personal record—to be honest, this album turned out just as deep if not more but I went on a bit of a journey with the way that I was writing. I just wanted to experience what it was like to write as a pop writer and that's what this album is. It was me trying out loads of different ways and meeting so many new, different people and getting in the studio with them and just having fun.I love that you described it as a "sexy exorcism."Yeah, "Diamonds" is for sure.Following your journey as an artist, in the beginning, we were hearing lots of power ballads but now I feel like we've got a whole new layer of Sam and who Sam is. Is this the record that you've always been wanting to make?Oh my gosh, I mean there's loads of records in me. There is so much more that I want to do but the basis of what I am as an artist is that I am a singer. I love to sing so many different styles and I think at the beginning of my career I felt that because of the success of my first record I felt pressure to constantly deliver something that was like that and stick to the type of artist that people wanted me to be. This album was me basically saying, "No, I'm going to sing the songs that I want to sing and sing about my life the way I want to sing about my life." That's what this record is.You're so inspiring for so many people from your music, your style, your vibe, everything about you. Who's inspiring you these days? What movies or TV shows are you watching or is there anything else inspiring you music-wise?All the time! I listen to music all day, every day. I'm obsessed with Chloe X Halle's new album at the moment. I think it's incredible. I've been listening to loads of country music recently which has been great. I'm also obsessed with the new show Euphoria and I'm watching that for the second time now. I binge-watched Selling Sunset recently which was incredible and babe, the way you're sat right now looks like one of those houses.Thank you! This is my house and I feel very honoured that you just said that. One of the best things about you and one of the reasons that people are so inspired by you is that you're living your truth. Does this record reflect the recent changes in your life and you living that truth?Oh, completely. This was breaking out of the mould for me and all of my music and everything I sing about will always be honesty. I think that this album definitely marks a time of change. For me, the way I sum up this album is that it's turning my guilty pleasures into pleasures and not feeling guilt, and just enjoying what I enjoy and being proud of that.It's such an important time in your life and to have this beautiful piece of art that reflects that, it must hold a little something extra special in your heart.Completely, it's wonderful and I have a wonderful job. I get to sing and do what I do every day and it's incredible. I'm just happy for people to hear it and onto the next chapter.You have so many great collaborations and collaborators, to name a few favourites, Demi Lovato and Normani. What was it like working with them and would you ever work with them again in the future after such successful songs?Oh my god of course! Everyone I've worked with has been incredible. For me, the highlight of this record was working with Labrinth and my relationship that I've formed with Labrinth has just been incredible. I can't wait for people to hear our song together.I'm so glad you mentioned that because that song hits different for me. The song builds up to this incredible climax and your voices are so in sync but also the lyrics are so deep. Talk to me about that song ["Love Goes"] and why it's so personal.That was just the most magical day in the studio and Labrinth's production is just so out of this world. I think I was pushing him because the end of that song was me pushing that. I think we pushed each other really in those sessions. The lyrics just fell out and came so easy. I just think they're a beautiful description of love and how love requires two people to be working on themselves and to help each other grow. If that's not happening then love has to go.I just got goosebumps especially because it's the title track it just makes so much sense. Another song I want to talk about, which is already a classic, is Calvin Harris' "Promises." I didn't realize that Jessie Reyez, our very own Canadian girl, is one of the writers on it. Did you get to work with Jessie on the song?It was me, Jessie and Calvin, in the studio together and she's the one going "tonight." She is next level talented. Calvin and her together are just this unbelievable team but working with her and writing with her was really special. It was fascinating to watch and she kind of taught me that I can have fun in the studio and it doesn't always have to be this heaviness which was wonderful.
[video_embed id='2066430']RELATED: Sam Smith talks lessons from Jessie Reyez.[/video_embed]
We are always rooting for her forever. One of the biggest things about your work is you've always been a big advocate for allyship. Why is it so important these days to really step up and be an ally in so many different walks of life?There are humans that are experiencing life in a very different way to some people. As I'm getting older I'm realizing how—you know, I'm white and I grew up in a privileged family. I was financially OK as a child but my queerness and being femme and gay as a young kid caused real trauma in my life and real hardship for me, let alone how it must be for some other people. It's not fair and it's not right. We as a queer community or any minority community, they're fighting every day of their lives and we need people to fight with us and for us because we're tired. That's how change happens and it's not up to us to constantly fight the cause. We need other people who have louder voices than us to help us.I think having artists like yourself being this role model—that responsibility is hard. You stepped into this because you love music and you love singing but to have this whole weight of being a role model you need other people to stand behind you to help keep you up.Yeah, completely but in a way, I feel like it's all weirdly linked—like my singing voice is probably the most non-binary part of me. I sing about my life and the word "role model" freaks me out because I don't see myself as that because I'm a very flawed human being. I would not want anyone to base their life on the way I have. I think that all I can do is express myself and if that makes people feel less alone then that's wonderful because to me that's what singing and music is all about. It's about sharing and if I'm sharing my voice I'm willing to share my other experiences too.You said something really important there. I think the reality is none of us are perfect, we all make missteps and we all have different things about us that we're not proud of. But to know that you are inspiring someone out there who feels like they're alone in the world, that's an incredible feat for you. I feel genuinely proud of you and I just can't wait for the world to hear this record. Lastly, you are going to be doing a big performance at Abbey Road Studios. As an artist and as a Brit what does that studio mean to you? It means so much and I've been rehearsing for the last few weeks and I'm so excited. It's going to be the most amazing performance and everyone has to watch it. It's going to be so fun. I've been with my band and we haven't been together for so long. It's just been such a beautiful time to make music. During COVID music is a place that I can go to that I feel safe and I hope we can do that for people on Friday.etalk Open House is a series that features performances and exclusive interviews with incredible talent like The KillersJessie ReyezShaggyNiall Horan and more. Catch the series on Thursday night as part of etalk’s regular  broadcast at 7pm ET on CTV  and 7:30pm on CTV2.

[video_embed id='1987731']BEFORE YOU GO: Jessie Reyez performs 'Kill Us' for etalk Open House[/video_embed]